A mailing list is an author’s most important channel for fan engagement. Building an audience of loyal fans requires lots of care and attention, and a person’s inbox is a great place to pay attention. Here are five effective ways to build your mailing list.
- Your Author Website
Subscription forms offering news and updates should be strategically placed throughout your author website and blog. You’ll generally see signup forms (or buttons) in menus and sidebars of a site. It’s also common to see subscription forms (or links to giveaways) placed at the end of blog posts or site pages. Another option is using a popup subscription form: a small window which opens after a few moments on the site. MailChimp used to say these forms were “evil popup mode,” but have since softened their opinion on the matter. Now, the general consensus is that popup forms are effective, but can be very annoying if they aren’t used sparingly.
- Back of Your Book
Linking to a newsletter subscription in the back of your book is something you should strongly consider. The folks at BookBub have talked a lot on the back matter topic and the value this page “real estate” holds for promotions. You can link to additional content (i.e. sneak peaks) in the back matter with the option to subscribe to your newsletter. That does not mean you should require a subscription when sharing content—please don’t do that. Forcing your readers to give up their email for a sneak peek is a bad way to maintain the relationship.
- Your Facebook Page
Another effective resource for building your mailing list is your Facebook Page. Converting your fans to subscribers is now easier since Facebook launched their call-to-action button for pages. When Facebook announced this feature at the end of last year, the informed people at HubSpot began encouraging marketers to add a “Sign Up” button to their page. This button would send fans to a “landing page” designed for newsletter subscriptions.
Converting your fans to subscribers is now easier since Facebook launched their call-to-action button.
For authors, that landing page should specifically be a content giveaway page that’s been optimized for readers. From our own data and research on effective email engagement, readers who subscribe to a mailing list via an author-led giveaway have more than double the response and engagement than subscribers through paid marketing on Facebook.
- Exclusive Rewards and Prizes
Crowdfunding has become an important part of publishing, particularly for independent authors. Amanda Barbara, co-founder of the crowdfunding platform Pubslush, was recently sharing ideas about building a brand with crowdfunding on The Huffington Post. Barbara highlights in her post the need to “reward supporters with exclusive benefits and incentives.” An exclusive content giveaway is a great crowdfunding reward, plus it’s an effective way to build your mailing list of supporters from a crowdfunding campaign.
Rewards and prizes can also be used to engage your fans in general. There are platforms like Rafflecopter, which help run your sweepstakes campaign. An exclusive content giveaway—with a mailing list subscription option—could be used as sweepstakes prizes or even consolation prizes for bigger giveaways.
- Fans Sharing Giveaways
Your most important giveaway for building your mailing list doesn’t actually involve “you” giving away anything: It’s the sharing done through personal recommendations by fans. The term we often hear authors use for their advocate fans is a “street team” of readers. These communities of fans are the ones actively spreading the word about your book, so make sure to empower them with a simple way to share content. Any giveaway should offer new readers the chance to opt-in to a newsletter, so street team sharing can be your most effective way of building your mailing list.
Maintaining the relationship with your audience is critical and your mailing list is your most effective channel for connecting. To build your mailing list through content giveaways, aspiring authors should start small: build up to sharing an average of ten giveaways a day. Developing momentum through incremental wins helps you reach larger victories down the road for building audience. For more established authors, it’s crucial to sustain sharing habits and to keep your fans sharing for you.